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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3164 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

indeed, even the increased population projections, the need for the community to do that would appear unlikely.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question?

MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that you say that the current number of hospital beds will be sufficient to meet future needs, does this mean that you share the view of Sir Humphrey Appleby that the best hospital you can have is one without patients?

MR CORBELL: It is interesting that Mrs Dunne equates the health of the community with the number of hospital beds that we have. If you have fewer hospital beds, it means you are heading towards a healthier community. I think your former health minister, Mr Moore, made exactly that point when he released his document Setting the agenda when he became health minister.

Mr Speaker, the issue of health care and provision is a complex one, and it is not down to the straight number of beds indicating how efficient or how effective your health system is. To suggest otherwise is simply misleading.

Motor vehicle theft

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Mr Wood. In the past six weeks, 91 motor vehicles have been stolen in the Belconnen area, which is a 46 per cent increase, and the police think that those responsible are mostly juveniles, some as young as 12. The Canberra Sunday Times of 22 June 2003 reported that operational police numbers on the north side have been cut by 19 officers as a result of a restructure. Given that the level of crime such as car thefts in that area is rising, is the fact that you cut police numbers an indication of your inability to manage the police portfolio?

MR WOOD: I do not think so, Mr Speaker. Yes, we are concerned about the level of car theft and I have had discussions with the Chief Police Officer about that. They believe they are getting on top of that wave and will be managing it. I would be fairly confident in saying that it is not connected at all to claims or allegations that maybe there is a reduction in police numbers in that area.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, do you care about this issue in terms of the 19 lost positions? If you do care about it, will you take action to address the issue?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, I do not know that there were positions lost. Circumstances change in the ACT-in Gungahlin, in Belconnen and in other places. There has been a consistent and, I have to say, increasing level of policing numbers over the years. Mr Cornwell has a question on the notice paper which I think will give us good information about that. But I can say that there are ample police in the community. The Chief Police Officer assures me that he has the numbers of police to manage those circumstances.

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